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Athletic Training

Career opportunities with training and nutrit

02/28/2010

Question:

What are the up and coming career opportunities for someone interested in sports training and nutrition? SPecifically what type of degree would be needed? Best sites for more information? If you could send additional current information, that would be great.

Answer:

Thanks for asking this question because it gives me a good opportunity to explain a little about my profession.  I am a Certified Athletic Trainer.  The name of this credential often leads people to think that I am a fitness professional and that I train athletes (as the name implies).  Such a notion is actually incorrect!  Athletic Trainers are NOT fitness professionals, but instead we are heatlh professionals who work to prevent, treat, and rehabilitate injuries and illnesses in a wide variety of patients, but particularly in athletes.  If you want to be a health care provider who takes care of athletes, then athletic training is a career that you should consider.

If you are really more interested on the fitness side of sports where you work to help athletes become bigger, stronger, faster, more skilled, etc and where you want to help them use their diet to accomplish these goals, then athletic training is not what you are looking for.  Instead, you will want a career in exercise science.  The best way to do this is to major in exercise science / exercise physiology / biomechanics / or kinesiology in college for your bachelors degree.  You will learn what you need to know about the body, how it works, and how it becomes more fit. Career options here include becoming a personal trainer, a strength coach, corporate wellness, cardiac rehabilitation, dietitian, etc.  At Ohio State, our athletics department has a strength training and conditioning staff who work full-time with the Buckeyes and we also use several Dietitians with them as well. 

There are a variety of certifications that you can pursue in these fields.  Some are quite good and well respected such as becoming a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (http://www.nsca-lift.org/)  or an exercise specialist through the American College of Sports Medicine (http://www.acsm.org/). If you are more interested in the nutrition side of things, then you will ideally want to get your credential as a registered dietitian through the American Dietetic Association (http://www.eatright.org/). You can minor in exercise science while majoring in dietetics and this is a great combination for sports nutrition.  However, there are also some poorly conceived personal training and sports nutrition credentials that you can get completely online or through a weekend course somewhere.  These are generally not worth the paper they are written on.

To learn more about these professions, I suggest visiting the ACSM website, the ADA website and the NSCA websites listed above.  They are by far the best, oldest, and most respected sources in the field.  Unfortunately, you will also find MILLIONS of websites dedicated to body building, strength training, and sports nutrition that are mostly filled with bad science and misguided anecdotes, so buyer beware.  Just for fun, I googled "sports nutrition" this morning and it returned over 33 MILLION hits.  If someone is trying to sell you something on the site, there is pretty good bet that the information is not very objective and might not even be correct.

For more information:

Go to the Athletic Training health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Mark  A Merrick, PhD, ATC Mark A Merrick, PhD, ATC
Associate Professor
School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences
The Ohio State University